The territory, on which Mariupol is located, started being settled down from the earliest times. The following archaeological monuments give evidences to this: neolithic burial ground, burial mounds of the copper-bronze epoch tribes and of the Scythian-and-Sarmatian times. In the middle of the 18th century Zaporozhye Cossacks raised a sentry post in the mouth of the Kalmius river.
When the Azov region had been joined to Russia here was founded Pavlovsk in 1778. In two years the city was settled by Greeks – the migrants from Crimea. Since that time it has been called Mariupol.
In pre-revolutionary time Mariupol was the main town of Mariupol uyezd (district) in Novorossiysk governorate, Mariupol Greek county of Taganrog borough, Mariupol uyezd (district) of Yekaterinoslav governorate.
The citizens pursued in trade but the main profit was gained by the income from commercial grain trading. In 1882 a railway branch was lead up to Mariupol; in 1889 a new commercial seaport was built. The consular missions of Italy, France, Austria-Hungary, Great Britain, Greece, Germany, Spain and other were opened. At the end of 19th century two metallurgical plants - of Nikopol-Mariupol community and «Russian Providence» - were built near Mariupol on Russian-Belgium and Russian-French ownership capital. The city turned into significant industrial and transport centre of the South of Russia. If at the end of 18th century the population was about 3 thousand people then in 1917 there were already 97300 residents.
Mariupol was also the religious centre of the region. In its orthodox cathedrals the relics brought by Greeks from the Crimea were kept, among them was the Byzantian icon of the 11th century “St. George with hagiology” (now it is kept at the National Museum of Ukrainian Art in Kyiv). Several synagogues, Catholic and Lutheran churches functioned in the city. The gymnasiums – one for men and three for women – brought up the local brainpower. Since 1878 the Mariupol theatre has been acting. The natives of Mariupol are a great landscapist A.I. Kuindzhi, the founder of the first Institute of psychology in Russia a philosopher G.I. Chelpanov, a fine art expert D.V. Ainalov, ophthalmologist M.I. Averbach, a geneticist and breeder M.I. Khadzhinov and others.
The shocks at the beginning of 20th century - industrial recession, sharp social stratification - lead to activation of the labour movement in the city. On the 30th of December the Soviet regime was established in Mariupol by armed forces. The aftermath of the Civil War laid on the economy of the region as a heavy burden. The most of enterprises and establishments were inactive. The difficult situation in the region was worsened by the famine, waves of typhoid epidemic, cholera, and malaria.
In the 1930s of the 20th c. the not only old industrial plants were restored in Mariupol but also another powerful metallurgical plant «Azovstal» was built.
Since 1932 Mariupol is the city of Donetsk region subordinance.
The inhabitants of Mariupol faced the hardship during 1941–1943: 700 days of occupation, famine, arrests and executions by a firing squad, deportation to slave labour to Germany ... The fights for liberation of the city lasted for five days. The sad result of war troubled years was the devastation and depopulation – no more than 85 thousands people has left in the city.
For forty years (1948–1989) the city was called after A.A. Zhdanov – a public figure of Stalin's epoch.
After the war the inhabitants of Mariupol raised their city from the ruins and ashes. Already by the end of 1950s all 48 enterprises of the city were active. In 1950–1980s Mariupol continued its developing as a big industrial centre and a seaport. In 1958 a heavy engineering plant, nowadays “Azovmash” JSC, was founded of the mechanical engineering workshops of Ilyich Iron & Steel Works. Due to spread of construction the trusts “Azovstalstroy” (Azovstal construction), “Zhdanovmetallurgstroy” (Zhdanov metallurgical construction), “Zhdanovzhylstroy” (Zhdanov house building), “Donbassmetallurgmontazh” (Donbass metallurgical mounting) were established.
With the development of Mariupol economy the number of its inhabitants increased: in 1958 – 280,3 thousands people, in 1970 – 436 thousands people, in 1989 – 540,3 thousands people.
By the middle of 1980s there were a metallurgical institute, an affiliated institution of the Odessa institute of sea fleet engineers, 66 secondary schools, other educational establishments in the city. The centre of the city was decorated with the building of Donetsk Region Russian Drama Theatre, A.I. Kuindzhi exhibition hall was opened, V.G. Korolenko city library got new premises.
In the years of the independent Ukraine Mariupol preserved its industrial potential. Nowadays he city occupies the leading position in the region in the volume of industrial output, it keeps the leading positions in Ukraine in metal production and metalworking, mechanical engineering industry. Nowadays there are more than 60 active industrial enterprises of different status in the city. The city owns a developed transport system and as before keeps the status of Donbass Sea Gate. Commercial Fleet of Donbass LLC - the successor of Azov Shipping Company – is based in Mariupol.
Mariupol has gained a certain authority in the international field. Since 1996 there is a consulate of Greece, since 2006 an Honourable consulate of the Republic of Cyprus.
Mariupol is still a cultural centre of the region; it has a developed network of educational establishments. In 1993 it became a university town.
The modern architectural look of Mariupol combines the features of the past and the modernity. Theatre square ensemble with the building of the Donetsk Region Russian Drama Theatre in the centre is very illustrative. From the north the square is sphered by two buildings with spires creating a peculiar focus in the city. In the south side of the square there are antique mansions. From the west the ensemble is adjoined by a slender building of water tower - the example of industrial architecture of the beginning of the 20th century. Built of red bricks and decorated by ornamental arcs and pilasters it adds a particular colouring to the centre of Mariupol. The adornment of the historical part of Mariupol is the City Garden that was planted in 1863.
There are about 200 monuments and memorial plates in Mariupol, 5 buildings are the monuments of history and architecture. Some monuments of nature are preserved near the city. They are the locations of Ukrainian steppe reserve “Khomutovska Steppe” and “Kamyana Mohyla”